Hotel Intel: Saudi tourism boom sparks lifestyle evolution
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is inching toward a more liberal society, always balancing Islamic culture, human rights and its shifting status as a political frenemy of many countries.
What was I doing in that controversial hotbed? Definitely not talking about politics or religion. I attended the 22nd World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Conference in Riyadh, the capital city, where 3,400 government and industry leaders exchanged views on sustainability, technology and more.
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, noted that 70 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s population is 30 or younger and their “incredible passion for hospitality, part of their natural DNA, will help open the kingdom to the world.”
The new Jareed Hotel in Riyadh is a shining example of the neo-hospitality scene that is booming as the kingdom gradually moves toward a more open society.
Tourism already is in high gear. The oil-rich kingdom welcomed a record 62 million visitors in 2021, half from outside the country. They came to experience Saudi’s six revered UNESCO archeological sites, wondrous modern architecture, holy cities and eye-popping hotels, all with backdrops of brilliant sunshine, striking desert landscapes and the beautiful waters of the Red Sea.
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